SEER vs. SEER: How much will one A/C save you over another?

On the hunt for a new air conditioner and realize a SEER rating is a pretty big deal, eh?

Like most, you’re probably wondering how much one can save you over the other. For example, how much money can you save per year by buying a 14 SEER vs. 10 SEER or a 17 SEER vs. 13 SEER… and so on.

While how much you can save depends on many factors related to your home, there are a few online tools that calculate an accurate estimate and make shopping a heck of a lot easier.

Here are 3 tools that’ll give you a better sense of savings when choosing one SEER rating over another.

1) AC Doctor Energy Calculator

If you already have an estimate from a contractor and want an easy cost comparison on a higher efficiency unit and lower conventional unit, this free calculator rocks.

A/C Doctor Energy Calculator Link

How to use:

  1. Enter your zip code and number of units you’re looking to replace.
  2. Enter total cost of system with installation for both.
  3. Select SEER ratings, tonnage and whether each system includes a programmable thermostat.
  4. Click Calculate.

The results: Show the effect of high-efficiency cooling and heating on your finances AND your environmental footprint.

2) HVAC OpCost Problem Solver

This tool is great because, unlike the first one, you don’t need to already have an estimate from a contractor. It will let you compare the operating expenses of 2 air conditioners with different SEERs.

HVAC OpCost Problem Solver Link

How to use:

  1. Click your location on the map or select your city from a drop-down list. This will automatically input electric rate data and cooling hours per year for your city and state (though you can correct it if it’s inaccurate).
  2. Enter your home’s square footage (this will estimate the size of your A/C).
  3. Under ‘Cooling – Standard’ put in the lower SEER with the higher in the ‘Cooling – High Efficiency’ section. Make sure to also select whether the systems are variable speed.
  4. If you’re thinking of getting a new heating system, you can also fill in that information, otherwise just leave it.
  5. Click calculate.

The results: Give you a yearly operating cost for the 2 air conditioners with different SEERs. If you didn’t change the heating information, make sure you’re only looking at the cooling side.

3) Energy Star Energy Usage and Payback Calculator

Want something a little more accurate? This tool is developed by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and lets you input much more customized information to generate a detailed breakdown of possible savings.